ARP Nitrous Pro Street newcomer Jeremy Lyons made his NMCA debut at the NMCA race in Beech Bend Raceway in 2018, and the Kentucky-based driver found a home in the heads-up, big-tire class. He also realized that his 1982 Camaro needed some upgrades to be competitive.
Lyons’ Third-Gen F-body was converted to a race car back in 1987 and hadn’t seen many updates since then. It was previously campaigned by Mitch Mika in the NMCA in Nostalgia Pro Street before Lyons picked the car up.
After the 2018 NMCA season finals, Lyons pulled the car into his partner Dean Lee’s Compression Fabrication and Machine shop in Brandenburg, Kentucky, and the two began dismantling the Camaro for some major upgrades.
First, the 565 cubic inch big-block came out and was dropped off at Knieriem Racing Engines where Tim Knieriem fitted the block with GRP connecting rods and a custom set of Ross pistons designed for Lyons’ cylinder heads—the short-block had come out of Xtreme Street racer John Warren’s Nova which utilized a different cylinder head than the Airflow Research cylinder heads that are currently employed, so the previously pistons weren’t optimized for the combination. While the engine was undergoing some changes, the intake manifold and nitrous system were sent to PKRE Racing for flow-testing and to develop some tuning strategies.
Lyons then set about removing all of the wiring inside the car and Craig Watson was tasked with putting in the new copper as well as wiring in the new AEM Electronics CD-7 dash that works in conjunction with the company’s 22-channel CAN sensor module, which now provides many sensors that the team previously didn’t have.
After last year’s efforts, Lyons had a good long conversation with Afco Racing’s Eric Saffell about suspension issues he was having with the Camaro. At Saffell’s recommendation, Lyons cut out the ‘80s-era shock mounts and four-link brackets and installed new brackets and relocated the shock mounts.
“We went from a 31.10.5w tire to a 33×16. The old school four-link brackets didn’t have enough adjustment,” Lyons said. “We adjusted it the way he recommended and added a custom set of Afco shocks and moved them behind the rearend where they’re supposed to be,” Lyons explained.
While the fabrication work was under way out back, Lyons took the opportunity to remove around 30 lbs of factory sheet metal and replaced it with aluminum panels. He also traded out the factory dashboard for a lightweight carbon-fiber version, swapped out the old driveshaft for a lighter-weight unit from Fast Shafts, and has procured a fiberglass front end for additional weight savings.
“The 565ci big-block had to weigh the same as the 632 cars before, and now I could lose 400 according to the rules changes,” Lyons said. “With these changes, we lost about 200 lbs out of the car so far.”
This past week, Lyons put the Camaro back on the ground and onto the dragstrip for some shakedown runs.
“Last night was our first time on track since Indy, but it’s basically a new car. You know you did a good job on the upgrades, but you never know what kind of gremlins you’re going to have.” So far, the only bugs seem to be with the transmission and Lyons is positive they have found the issue and plans to test again this week.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to run with [Tricia] Musi and [Mike] Bankston, but we’re hoping to pick up a couple tenths at least. I want to be close enough that if they have problems, I’ll be there to take advantage of it and get the win.”
The Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street Legal Drag Racing at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, always brings a great showing of the ARP Nitrous Pro Street class, and if Lyons can keep the candles lit all the way to the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle, he might just get himself a Super Bowl ring!